This post is a nowhere-near exhaustive list of some only-in-summer activities going on in NYC – and a reminder that while it is often glorious to get out of the city during this season it is often just as glorious to stay. This list skews towards the theatrical – but virtually every interest is indulged in this beloved season. If you have other summer-in-the-city activities to recommend, please send them in !
Hey, not everyone is heading out to the Hamptons, up to the Berkshires, out to Bucks County, down to the shore - or wherever – during the summer. Many people think that summer in NYC is the best time to be here with a huge offering of seasonal cultural offerings, many of which are outdoors and have an easier, experimental and YOLO vibe. For example:
MIDSUMMER NIGHT SWING is almost over – it ends in four days on July 12th. For 25 years, on the Lincoln Center Plaza in front of Avery Fisher Hall hundreds of dedicated dancers – and students of dance – break loose and dance ballroom, be-bop, disco and Lindy Hop. Go to dance, take dance lessons – or just watch the happy, enthralled dancers – it’s an evening of exuberant entertainment however you choose to participate.
CHARLES JAMES at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: This fantastic show of the master American couturier closes on August 10th ! Don’t miss it. The Costume Institute launches their shows at the height of Spring and closes them in the summer – so they easily fall off your dance card. Even more interesting in this particular show is how the Met has used video presentations to deconstruct each garment so you understand how it came to be. Don’t forget that the Met is open late on Friday and Saturday nights.
PILOBULUS has been coming to NYC every summer since 1971. This ground-breaking dance troupe founded by several Dartmouth students features exaggerated (and often sort of funny) contortions requiring not-be-believed strength and flexibility and athleticism. Many a dance career (including Martha Clarke’s) has been launched here. They are performing from July 15th – August 10th at the Joyce.
GOVERNOR’S ISLAND is open on week-days this summer for the first-time ever. Treat yourself in the middle of the week to a free boat ride (leaving from the Coast Guard Ferry terminal, next to the Staten Island Ferry) over to the island. Once there you can walk around the island, rent a bike (or bring one – they’re free on the ferry) and relax in hammock park with a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty. Bring a picnic/ brown bag lunch or get a burger at Water Taxi Beach (with a great skyline view) or from one of the concessions in the middle of the island.
NEW YORK PHILHARHOMIC OUTDOOR CONCERTS are coming up fast ! This coming Friday (July 11th) and Monday (July 14th) they will be offering up Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Smetana. And if staking out blanket space amid tens of thousands of others on Sheep Meadow doesn’t appeal – don’t bother ! Amble on over to the Park and sit on a bench on the edge and take in the music and lovely, lovely scene. The Philharmonic plays in all of the boroughs so if you can’t make it to Central Park, check the NYPhilharmonic website and see if you can catch another one.
THE WHO AND THE WHAT, Lincoln Center Theater’s almost-impossible to get tickets for production has been extended for two weeks, until July 27th. Funny, relevant, gripping and challenging – this is a wonderful work which confronts one’s assumptions about who you are and the prism of contradictions that quite possibly made you that way. This is a big opportunity – grab it.
HERE LIES LOVE , a Public Theater “musical experience” now playing at the Pubic’s newly renovated digs downtown, has audiences wondering if this is a theatrical or disco experience – the answer: both. Based on Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos’ extraordinary life and circumstances (forget about the shoes!) this is a joint work by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim and was reviewed by Vogue as “A life-giving, roof-raising, booty-shaking blast of pure joy!” Sort of sounds like summer, no ?? This is an immersive, participatory, all-standing, no-intermission 90-minute production: wear your most comfortable shoes. Plan on dancing. As of right now, this is scheduled only until SEPTEMBER 6th. Power to the Party !
KING LEAR at the Delacorte Theater - with John Lithgow and Annette Benning, no less – opens on July 22nd and runs until August 17th. You can get tickets by waiting on line for free ones (but get there very, very early for this one), enter the online daily lottery – or just buy some from the Public Theater’s website – and hope for a cool, rain-free, evening.
FLAMENCO IN CENTRAL PARK comes in a variety of forms. Ballet Hispanico and A Palo Seco join forces to present – and teach – flamenco at Summerstage. But, sometimes late on Summer Saturday nights, an impromptu group forms at the south end of the Mall in the Park (near the statue) and pick-up flamenco is danced – or watched - by whomever wants to join in.
JONES BEACH is not to be forgotten ! No matter what you have to say about Robert Moses, the guy DID build one heck of a beach. Opened in 1929, Moses’ vision was for an Atlantic Ocean-front beach playground with oodles of amenities and a sweet, sort of comely, retro-/ deco feel. It has boardwalks and pools and beach chairs and umbrellas, restaurants and you can get there by public transportation. And there’s a fantastic new addition this year – open daily until the end of the summer: SMORGASBURG, that Brooklyn-based food truck phantasmagoria is ensconced at the main entrance (mostly easily reached via Parking Fields 6 and 4) and is open until 8 with food trucks, a bar, tents and beach games. Check out some Jones Beach pics in the gallery below.
Honestly, this is just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, speck, jot, whisper of what’s available in NYC only during the summer. WHAT”S ON YOUR LIST ?